How to become a veterinary nurse: Australian careers in Animal Care

Veterinary nurses work alongside clients, other vet nurses and qualified veterinaries to ensure the wellbeing and health of all animals. Because you will be exposed to a wide variety of animals, your day will never be the same, as you may deal with domestic pets and wildlife as well as provide other support services such as updating medical records, speaking with clients and assisting in surgical procedures. If you love animals, as well as a challenge, there are many ways you can start your career as a veterinary nurse.

  • Task Career in focus: What a veterinary nurse does

    As a veterinary nurse, you will deal with lots of different animals in all sorts of health situations, from routine check-ups to emergency medical assistance. You will mostly work under the supervision of a qualified veterinary but will also need to make judgement calls and as part of a team of other nurses. Typically, a veterinary nurse is expected to update animal medical records, help with the administration of medicine, sterilise and assist in a surgical environment and help with consultations. A veterinary nurse will also speak with pet owners and should have a natural empathetic, yet analytical approach to problem-solving. A veterinary clinic can be very busy, so you will need to be able to quickly prioritise and multi-task, whilst maintaining a high-level of service.

    Tasks:

    • Provide consultation assistance to veterinaries
    • Under the guidance of senior staff, administer medications to animals
    • Assist in animal surgeries
    • Provide administrative and record-keeping services.
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a veterinary nurse

    As someone who will be in constant contact with all sorts of animals, it is important that a veterinary nurse has a passion for the wellbeing of animals. You will come into contact with sometimes highly distressed pet owners, so an empathetic matter is also important to be successful in this career. Clinics are often chaotically busy, so you should be able to remain calm under pressure and able to quickly make sound judgement calls on behalf of your team.

    Skills/attributes
    • Passion for all sorts of animals, advocating for their health and wellbeing
    • Ability to multi-task and organise priorities
    • Take instructions from senior veterinaries and work as part of a team
    • Remain calm under pressure whilst maintaining empathy and understanding for clients
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within Animal Care

    Becoming a veterinary nurse will give you a good, solid foundation of knowledge and experience that you can use in life, as well as in your career, should you wish to progress. By gaining extra qualifications, specifically in animal care, there are a variety of career pathways that could open up to you.

    Animal trainer

    If you are a patient person, who enjoys teaching animals, there are career opportunities in animal handling and training. You can work with a variety of different areas, from seeing eye dogs or larger, exotic animals, specialising in training or behaviour.

    Veterinarian

    Starting out as a veterinary nurse will give you the perfect skills and experience, should you decide to become a qualified veterinarian. You may be applicable to have your prior veterinary nurse skills and education recognised, and will learn more about medications, the different species of animals and the diseases and health issues that they face, as part of your qualification.

    Zoo keeper

    If you enjoy working with more exotic animals or native wildlife, a career as a zoo keeper may be for you. The skills you have learnt as a veterinary nurse will help you step up for the care of several different types of animals in a zoo environment, which may see you be responsible for the daily care, feeding, behaviour and mating of a several animals.
  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a veterinary nurse

    If you want to start your career in animal care, there are a variety of skills you will need to give you a head start.

    Starting Out

    The first step is to get the right skills with a qualification, which are available through a variety of different courses.

    Building Skills

    The knowledge you learn will help you further your career in your specific field.

    Developing Your Resume

    Bump up your resume to stand out from the crowd with knowledge and experience-based skills.

    Industry Recognition

    To help you find a mentor, other colleagues or possible employers, you can apply for membership with the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia to increase your opportunities.

    Entering the Workforce

    To start working in animal care now, check out our sample application packs, including resumes and cover letters, to land you your dream job.

    Job Prospects in Animal Care: Working life as a veterinary nurse

    Overall, the growth in veterinary nursing is low, however the life skills you will learn that can help you further your career, are very beneficial.

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